The angel key opened more than hidden, bolted closed (from the inside and outside) or enchanted doors. The special clockworks could be calibrated to the individual with the shape of the key changed accordingly. The angel wings held the key steady when opening. After all, what was the difference between a closed mind and a locked door? Between a crying heart and a squeaky lock?
Scholars didn’t know the exact number of angel keys made, when and where they were created nor where the remaining keys were. It was assumed that some of the keys had been destroyed, lost, or pocketed by those who didn’t understand what they had.
If used as a tuning fork, the listener could hear the hum close and at great distances. On solstices, let the light shine through the center cog, and a map would appear, allowing the possessor of the key to see where the other ones rested.
There is family lore as to why we have one of these mystical angel keys. Somehow, in our distant past, a young woman mysteriously came to possess one. Being deemed a witch was a real fear; perhaps it would be perceived as the devil’s device to trap young maidens. Pasted along through generations, it remained hidden and unused.
Half my ancestors stayed in Ireland, alive or buried due to the famine. The other half left, bring their traditions, stories, songs, and lore with them. The angel key was brought to America, tucked deep within a steerage bag.
I was the first to recognize it for what it was. These were the kinds of things I studied. Artifacts created for obsolete or unknown uses. To have an angel key in the family was phenomenal. I experimented with what it could do. Began to understand the clockworks, the central clog, and each the recalibration.
What to open first? A door, a heart, a mind? I sat cross-legged on my loft floor. Candles placed on every flat surface sent wavy, dancing light across the room, across my face. I put the key between my hands, held in prayer, cleared my mind and waited.
A glow of warm and light streamed through my fingers. I felt the clockworks move, the smaller clogs turn, click, and stop. The size and shape of the key changed, becoming smaller and more rounded. An image came into my mind of a small round-top door the entrance to a huge, old tree. The angel key would easily slip into the lock, the door would swing open. And . . . .